Positive lab environment critical for undergraduate success in research, study shows

ScienceDaily | 8/14/2019 | Staff
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And, for students who participate in research over several years, the benefits are even greater. They often develop greater confidence in their research skills, an ability to solve problems independently and are more likely to pursue a career in STEM.

But many undergraduates drop out of their research experience before graduation or even during their first year working in a biology lab. Until now, there has been no research as to why.

Study - Today - PLOS - ONE - Group

In a study published today in PLOS ONE, a group of 14 undergraduate Arizona State University co-authors addressed this question as part of a class project. Led by School of Life Sciences Associate Professor Sara Brownell, graduate student Logan Gin, and University of Central Florida Assistant Professor Katelyn Cooper, students with the LEAP Scholars program surveyed more than 750 life sciences undergraduates doing research in 25 public institutions across the U.S. They found that 50% of students who participated in the study had considered leaving their undergraduate research experience, and ultimately, more than 50% of those students decided to leave.

They also found that the most important factors that influence whether a student decides to continue working in research included a positive lab environment and enjoying their everyday research tasks, as well as flexible schedules, positive social interactions and feeling included. Students also persisted with their research when they felt they were learning important skills and perceived the work was important to their career goals.

Research - Experiences - Students - Study - Case

"We often assume that all undergraduate research experiences are positive for students, but this study shows that this is not the case. If 50% of students consider leaving their undergraduate research experience, then that means that we have a structural problem with how we are integrating students in undergraduate research," said senior author Brownell. "We can empower students with more knowledge about undergraduate research to help them...
(Excerpt) Read more at: ScienceDaily
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